“Two hands holding a bowl of vermicelli
I was busy eating and forgot my lover waiting”
30 years have passed, I can only remember 2 sentences in the whole 2-page poem on the topic of food by my foster uncle, from when I was a kid because it rhymes and easy to remember, because of the joy. The passion for vermicelli with childhood until now has never been exhausted.
In Hanoi, to talk about the dishes of the thread line, there are a few most prominent types including: Pho, Noodles, Vermicelli, Banh Da and Bun, in which the Bun branch alone produces dozens of different types of dishes. The mouth is not full yet such as: Bun cha, vermicelli, vermicelli, vermicelli, vermicelli, vermicelli, crab vermicelli, fish vermicelli, vermicelli … and of course, indispensable vermicelli that I always consider the queen of dishes related to vermicelli: Bun rieu
Nowadays, finding a bowl of vermicelli noodles outside a restaurant is so easy, you can go around the city in any way, otherwise open your phone online and go to all kinds of ordering apps, press a few times and the shipper will bring you later. to the door. However, whether it is eating goods or buying ingredients for cooking, the taste of the bowl of vermicelli now is much different from the taste of the past, at least from my childhood. 30 years ago.
The original bowl of vermicelli crab noodles is most suitable for the hot summer afternoons of Hanoi, because a standard bowl of vermicelli noodles is very low in fat and must always have a special cool and sour taste, a typical taste. That makes every time you slurp, go through your throat and down to your stomach and sweat, you make the body feel like there is a cool breeze from the feet to the top of the head.
In that old time, in the early 80s, the country was still subsidized, meat was not easy to get, but the crab dish was simple and very close. At that time, what was it like to stick to my mother’s skirt to go to the market, I heard the ladies and gentlemen, still muddy, invited to buy each crab, the only difference was that the old crabs were not put in the pot as they are now, but the saleswomen would clip them for about ten, fifteen fish on two bamboo sticks and then tie the stick’s end with thin vertical banana leaves.
Talking about copper crab bricks, “genuine” goods must have a characteristic dark yellow color, when cooked, they immediately smell like crabs, even slightly fishy, therefore, the standard recipe to make a delicious crab pot is indispensable. The “soulmate” of crab bricks is vinegar suddenly. Vinegar is suddenly created from the process of manual winemaking, so in addition to the sour taste, there is also a little alcohol flavor to help mask the fishy smell of crabs, this Northern typical spice blends perfectly with crab bricks to create a dish. Sour and sour, naturally sweet and sour, just thinking about it makes me see the taste in my mouth continuously.
The old bowl of crab vermicelli is very simple, imbued with the common people in it, a vermicelli is displayed with a broth that only smells of vinegar, the bowl has the dark color of crab bricks, green onions, and red coffee. sour, at most a few pieces of fried beans with a little shrimp paste to taste. Accompanied by a plate of raw vegetables with lettuce, perilla, marjoram… and especially, two typical vegetables are indispensable: chopped banana leaves and split water spinach. That’s all, but makes many people fascinated, like me!
Time passes like the wind blows the clouds away, in the blink of an eye, that difficult time has passed, the country is also changing constantly, people are getting used to buildings, cars, mobile phones, the internet and many other things. other modern things. And the cuisine of Ha Thanh land also naturally changes gradually over the years. Suddenly, on a windy autumn afternoon like today, I was startled to think of that old taste of the bowl of vermicelli that remained in the childhood memories that suddenly became extremely nostalgic.
Bun rieu now is very different, life is better, fish meat is always available and available, vermicelli is sold all year round and also modified with more than a billion side dishes to satisfy diners. beef, pork rolls, ear rolls, cartilage ribs… even duck eggs, rolls with guise leaves. Things that no one thought would appear in a bowl of vermicelli in the years nineteen eight.
Crab broth is now hard to find the typical cool and sour taste anymore, because many shops use bone broth, then vinegar is also produced according to the recipe, bottled for convenience, but no longer the kind that suddenly elaborately from the process of making fermented rice wine as before, the sour taste is still there but the concentration of the wine is gone, people sometimes add a little sugar, a bit of noodles and even seasoning seeds to the broth for convenience. .
Crab is probably a rare commodity now because the fields are dwindling and people are no longer interested in struggling to find each crab and bring it to the market to sell. Real crab bricks are therefore rare, many shops also add tofu to the pot of crab vermicelli, which is rich and dense, and the sweet taste of crab meat is also much lighter.
Even the “attached” dish, which is a basket of raw vegetables, is no longer the same, now it is rare to find a product that still “favors” the two stars on the basket at that time, which were split morning glory and plantain, because it was a waste of time. time, meticulous but laborious. So, the feeling of fresh crispiness mixed with the sweet and sour taste of the chopped vegetables in your mouth, if you want to enjoy it, it also takes a lot of effort to find the right product.
Well, in the current times, the earth still has to change according to the laws of development and the imprint of time, and the noodle dish. I still do not because of that change that I am not “addicted” to this dish that has been “bold” in my heart, still regularly go to the familiar restaurant at least twice a week to inhale, to slurp a bowl of crab noodle soup. but happy in my heart.
That’s the way it is, but let me share with you guys who have been, are and will love this noodle dish, some of my favorite destinations in my “career” of serving vermicelli bowls all over Hanoi. It is a unique bowl of vermicelli noodles with only dried onions, water spinach, extra pieces of spring rolls and broth that still smells like vinegar suddenly on Nguyen Sieu Street.
Next is a vermicelli shop on the sidewalk of Bat Dan Street, each carrying a small pile of chairs, nowhere to find a place to set the table, diners just like to take the veal to eat the vermicelli bowl. delicious, next can’t help but mention the Hong Phuc lane vermicelli, which is the oldest and second-oldest sold until now, of course if you are slow, please wait in line for your turn, because the recipe is so popular. The difference of these noodle shops is the small location, few seats but the customers are crowded.
In addition, there are some more “modern” vermicelli shops that are also worth trying such as Quang Trung vermicelli (now moved to Nguyen Du), Hang Bong, Cau Go, Hang Luoc vermicelli … also delicious to, Oh my, it’s already late afternoon when it comes to this, in this cold autumn of Hanoi, there is nothing better than sitting on the sidewalk holding a bowl of rich crab vermicelli and slurping.
I’m getting more and more absorbed in my uncle’s verses, I don’t know if the characters in those two verses will be angry with their lovers, but even if they are angry, let’s sit down together and have a bowl of vermicelli, all anger. If you are angry, you will be swept away by the sweet and sour taste of a bowl of vermicelli noodles with love!